Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tell the Senate -- vote YES on the Reauthorization of VAWA (S. 1925)

 Reauthorization of VAWA (S. 1925)

The bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill (S. 1925) protects all victims of violence – domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  This bill is expected for a vote in the Senate as early as today.  Tell your Senators to vote to keep all of the critical provisions, including those protections for Tribal women, immigrants, and LGBTQ victims, in the bill.

Since its passage in 1994, VAWA has a proven track record of protecting women from domestic violence, reducing the annual incidence of domestic violence by more than 50 percent. VAWA was the first U.S. federal law acknowledging domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes. This law passed the Senate unanimously in 2000 and 2005, and 47 state attorneys general support its reauthorization now.

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA -- S. 1925), a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID), streamlines programs to improve effectiveness, increases accountability to ensure that all victims and survivors receive the greatest benefit, and provides critical improvements to respond to the unmet needs of communities across the country. In particular, S. 1925 explicitly strengthens protections for those experiencing violence at the hands of a same-sex partner, as well as for immigrants and Native American women.

The bill currently has 61 cosponsors in the U.S. Senate. With strong bipartisan support, a vote on the Senate floor is expected as early as Wednesday, April 25!  

Friday, April 13, 2012

Save the Date: No! to Prison Privatization


Say No! to Prison Privatization
National Call-in Day:
Wednesday, April 18

Wednesday, April 18, is the National Call-in Day to State Governors to say No to Prison Privatization! A letter was sent recently to 48 U.S. governors announcing the Corrections Corp. of America’s “Investment Initiative” to spend up to $250 million to buy prisons from state, local, and federal governments. The "initiative" requires a minimum commitment of 20 years for the facility, maintaining 90% capacity over the 20-year period.

Over 35 national faith organizations, including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), urged the governors to decline this dangerous, costly invitation. To ensure that our states do not move toward increased privatization of correctional services, we call for evidence-based policies and practices proven to reduce recidivism and a reduction in the prison population.

The PC(USA) Office of Public Witness is partnering with the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, as well as several other partners in the faith community, to oppose this effort to privatize prisons. 

In 2003, the 215th General Assembly approved a Resolution Calling for the Abolition of For-Profit Prisons:

We believe that the ultimate goal of the criminal justice system should be “restorative justice”: “addressing the hurts and the needs of the victim, the offender, and the community in such a way that all—victim, offender, and community—might be healed” (Resolution on Restorative Justice, Minutes, 2002, Part I, p. 576)…

Since the goal of for-profit private prisons is earning a profit for their shareholders, there is a basic and fundamental conflict with the concept of rehabilitation as the ultimate goal of the prison system. We believe that this is a glaring and significant flaw in our justice system and that for-profit private prisons should be abolished…

Even if for-profit private prisons could achieve significant cost savings to the taxpayer, which in fact they have not been able to do, they would still be morally unacceptable. Private prisons are not an economic but a deep religious and ethical issue, a cornerstone of our collective work to put justice back into the so-called “criminal justice system.” The moral concern and authority of the faith community make it critical that our voices be heard and our weight be felt.

The resurrection story is our call to work for restorative justice in our own time. We are a people of new life in the face of hatred and death. Increased profit from endless imprisonment means death to families and communities, and eliminates the possibility for new life and restoration.

Raise your voice on April 18 as we call for state governors to publicly decline CCA’s offer to privatize by June 1.

* This link will take you to the website of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society.  Sign up for a reminder for the call-in day, and that reminder will include instructions for calling your governor.